Cinema vs. Church
Craig Mod recently sent out an edition of his newsletter about the Japanese moviegoing experience. He found himself surprised that — at the Japanese cinema — the audience members don’t simply jump out of their seats and scramble at the end of the film. Instead, they remain in their seats, as if time for contemplation is necessary after taking in a film. Mod brings into the discussion the boredom he felt as a child in church to illustrate his points.
As a kid, the most boring hour of the week — by far — was church. We’d go. I’d feel as if I were being waterboarded in the pew. Skull-numbing boredom. Crawling-outta-my-skin kinda boredom. Counting ceiling tiles. Listening to terribly un-charismatic priests. I prayed only for the money basket to come around so I’d have something to do. I don’t think anyone in my family was having fun either — we’d usually leave at communion, which I guess was an acceptable exit strategy? Seems strange now to think back on that, on not being able to hang for another ten minutes. And, anyway, isn’t the real point of something like church the post-mental-hairshirt chatty bonhomie? I realize now, my family was fastidiously asocial! Regardless, this was my bizarre, perhaps not-uncommon experience as a child — the Great Boredom of Church.
Of course, most who attended church as children can relate to the aspect of boredom. I used to spend my time in church reading the Book of Revelation. It had action, apocalypse, and danger!
Now, though, I love the church experience. Specifically, I’m drawn in by the Divine Liturgy. The Divine Liturgy most closely represents the scenes of worship that I read about in the Book of Revelation. Angels, elders, saints and more, continuously worshipping God. “Again and again in peace, let us pray to the Lord,” the priest says as we repeat the lines of worship several times. Not only do we repeat those lines within the context of a single worship service, but we do so every week. The Divine Liturgy remains the same and only slight changes occur from one service to another. In that repetition, though, we affirm what we believe to be a heavenly reality, that those who are close to God will be ever at His throne, worshipping steadfastly. This is the hope for eternity. What we are doing now feels like practice.
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